The Serial podcast seems to have helped Adnan Syed get a new trial. But a podcast inspired by Serial might have gone one step further. As one person involved puts it to the BBC, "We actually helped free an innocent man." Kaj Linna had served 11 years of a life sentence for murder and robbery in Sweden when true-crime podcast Spar drew attention to his case in May 2015. Over eight episodes, journalists Anton Berg and Martin Johnson told how Robert Lindberg had been killed and his brother injured in an attack on a farm and how the brother had thought the attacker might've been a former business associate. The associate had an alibi, however, and he suggested Linna as a suspect instead. He steered police to a third man, who became the main witness in Linna's trial and claimed that Linna had planned to rob the Lindbergs, per the Local.
Linna was found guilty and imprisoned for the crime in 2004. Of particular importance, however, was an interview the main witness gave to Spar years later. After asking that his microphone be turned off, "he came up with a different story to the one he put forward in the trial," Berg says. He adds that the main microphone had indeed been turned off, but a secondary one inadvertently recorded everything the witness said. Linna used the audio during an appeal and was granted a retrial in December. On Thursday, the Swedish Court of Appeal acquitted him, citing "insufficient" evidence for conviction. Berg says the podcast team is "happy and relieved" and "frankly impressed that a podcast could have this kind of impact." Linna is expected to receive a major payout.